We had a Plan B for rain, but somehow we totally forgot to have a global pandemic backup plan...
On Friday morning, Jonah and I wrote an email to the fifty friends and family members who had been planning on attending our March 28th wedding in San Diego. We tried to keep the first few lines light—the reality of the situation was only just starting to hit us—as we announced the decision to postpone our wedding.
After a lot of consideration, discussion, tears, laughs, and 'fml's, we've decided to postpone our wedding. This was obviously not an easy decision, and we are so, so sorry for all the inconveniences this will cause, but our first priority is keeping everyone safe and healthy, and helping to slow the spread of this virus (not to mention the fact that we have no idea what the next two weeks will hold).
Even just five days ago, the move felt dramatic, even overreactive. We'd only been working from home for one day and there weren't many confirmed cases in L.A. yet. We felt responsible for canceled flights and conflicted about the bachelorette party I was supposed to attend that weekend for a still-scheduled wedding two weeks past ours.
We spent the rest of the day fielding calls from friends, all of whom were understanding, but only a handful had been tracking the news as obsessively as we had, wondering when we would cancel. We called our vendors, who were thankfully flexible and kind. We had always planned on having "multiple celebrations," to be able to include our family and friends who live far away, but had always considered the March 28th event to be our "official" wedding. Still, we were lucky that the spread-out celebrations meant that we'd always planned on a pared-down day that would take place in Jonah's childhood backyard. After canceling our honeymoon, there wasn't much to do beyond call our photographer, caterer, and florist. With the logistics out of the way, we took time to acclimate to our new reality.
Over the course of the day, we formulated a new plan: We'd postpone our wedding by a year or so (we won't be picking a new date until the threat dies down) and make it into more of a "one year anniversary vow renewal." Because we didn't want to postpone our marriage, we decided to host a skeleton crew—our parents and their partners, siblings, and our officiant and her boyfriend—in our living room for a small ceremony on our original date. We'd follow the same format we'd decided on for our wedding, with some obvious adjustments: My mom and I would spend the day getting ready together, followed by a 4 PM ceremony, "cocktail hour" at our bar cart, and a homemade dinner using the place settings we'd saved for the actual wedding.
It was scaled down, but I quickly became excited about our new plan. We weren't losing anything, I reminded myself, just separating the sentimental part from the larger celebration. I'd be able to cook dinner for my wedding guests as I've always, strangely, dreamed of doing (my mom cooked dinner for hers, and in the photos you can see the purple stains on her fingers from peeling beets an hour before her ceremony). It would be small, but beautiful. "It's a story you'll tell your grandchildren forever," my mom told me a few times over the phone. My brother suggested the hashtag #LoveInTheTimeofCorona.
But now, it looks like even a small wedding is out of the question. Just yesterday, public health experts recommended that "[g]atherings of individuals who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should be limited to no more than 10 people." Though Jonah and my families are healthy, our dads are both in their mid-to-late seventies, with asthma and a heart condition, respectively. Even though my parents planned on driving from Reno, asking them to travel and gather with others felt increasingly insensitive.
So that leaves us with a new, albeit vague, plan: to have a small wedding "in the near future," whenever that is, as soon as public health officials allow for it. (While we considered just having our officiant—Jonah's oldest friend and one of my closest—marry us, our parents would quite literally kill us.)
It's possible that I'm suppressing a lot of emotions right now, but I haven't felt sad—at least, I haven't cried—since Friday, until it came time for me to write this post. One reason is that: as the coronavirus spreads, it's given me the gift of perspective that's especially easy to lose when planning a wedding.
Since throwing ourselves a short pity party on Friday morning, Jonah and I have become increasingly aware of how lucky we are in this situation. While it's disappointing that our wedding was postponed, I feel more grateful than upset knowing that the greatest personal impact we've experienced is simply an inconvenience. We are healthy, our family is healthy, and we're in the incredibly fortunate position of having jobs that allow us to work from home (we have many close friends and family members who are not in this position).
Exactly a week before making the decision to postpone our wedding, I wrote my vows to Jonah, which already feel more appropriate than I ever could have imagined they'd be:
I enjoy being with you so much that what should have been horrible memories turned into some of my most cherished, or at the very least hilarious. Like when we had to ride in a tow truck from the middle of Big Sur to Carmel on New Years Day, or when we were invited to spend the night for Thanksgiving two hours outside of New York, then found ourself on a train back to the city at 11 PM, or when you emerged from food poisoning in the Vietnam airport to discover a baby had peed all over me. You are my favorite person to turn to after any strange, unexpected, or downright bad thing and say, “What the fuck just happened?”
This virus is clearly not what we bargained for—for one thing, I imagined reading my vows to Jonah in front of fifty loved ones, not twenty minutes before publishing this post—and instead of a wedding, we got what feels like a marriage bootcamp. We've gone from being incredibly busy planning a wedding and seeing friends, to spending literally every moment together in our small apartment. I'm not naive or callous enough to think that this virus will turn into "one of my most cherished memories," but I feel as thankful as I ever have that Jonah is the one by my side through this very strange and confusing time, and grateful that I'll be able to marry him someday, whenever that is.
Without losing sight of the gravity of the situation, Jonah and I have been coping with this new reality with humor. Our favorite new running joke is, "Hey remember when [insert inconsequential wedding concern] was our biggest concern?" We cycle through situations like Mad Libs: the fit of my mom's wedding dress that I'd planned to wear, the rain, the placement of floral arrangements, whether the sign we'd ordered for the bar was large enough, until one of us says, "Hey, have we considered a global pandemic?" Nahh.
I don't have to tell you that this is a weird time since it is impacting each and every one of us. I've spent a lot of time thinking about medical professionals, the election, the people who dispose of our trash bins, and those who baked the bread we ordered just this morning because we couldn't find yeast at the store. My heart goes out to new moms (a friend of mine is due this week) and the people in the retirement community I ran past yesterday, all gathered around a television set that was playing a slide show about how to stay healthy. I'm reading articles about Olympic athletes who have trained for four years and may no longer be competing in Tokyo, and have messaged with readers who have had to postpone their weddings too, through our Facebook Community.
It's enough to drive me insane—which is why I'll be distracting myself with intricate recipes, home workouts, binge-worthy books, and the safe way I've been fostering a mini-community with the other people in my apartment building. And I'll be sharing all of those things with you over the coming weeks.
But for now, I'm simply turning to Jonah at the end of this post to say, "What the fuck just happened?"